TAMPA (WFLA) – The same jury that convicted Granville Ritchie of raping and killing 9-year-old Felecia Williams unanimously decided Friday night he should be put to death.
Ritchie was found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual battery and aggravated child abuse on Wednesday. He was accused of raping and strangling Williams back in 2014 in Tampa.
Laughter, tears, and clapping could be heard from Williams’ family as they left the courtroom Friday night.
It took the jury roughly three hours to come to a decision, unanimously agreeing the crime was heinous enough to warrant the death penalty.
The victim’s mother Felecia Demerson spoke to 8 On Your Side immediately after, calling the decision justice for her daughter. She said she was “relieved” to see her five year nightmare come to a close.
“As long as I know he’s in that box for the rest of his life, that’s all I care about,” Demerson said. “Because my daughter is up under all that dirt, in a box for the rest of her life.”
State prosecutors during closing arguments told the jury, “There is a mountain of evidence” that points toward Ritchie as the murderer. They pointed to a 911 phone call they believe Williams made after the woman watching her that day, Eboni Wiley, left her at Ritchie’s place to buy marijuana.
Prosecutors also recounted testimony from plant and sand experts saying the sand found in Ritchie’s car was a 99% match to the sand found where the little girl’s body was found near the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
They pointed to a mangrove leaf found on Ritchie’s car that also was a match to leaves found near the body.
The defense, in the meantime, argued all evidence presented was circumstantial. Ritchie’s attorney pointed to the fact that there was no DNA evidence, nor were there any signs of sexual battery on the girl’s body.